Their marriage had surprised many; but not their divorce. For it was a fait accompli from the very beginning. The PDP-BJP government which came to power in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 was to pander to their mutual benefits rather than to promote any common ideology or agenda. It was an opportunistic alliance to reap the fruits of power for as much time as they could pull together. And when the opportune time came, the BJP pulled the rugs from under the feet of the government. The saffron party did so with its next target of 2019 general elections, and not for promoting peace in Kashmir as is made out.
It was a government of two parties with numerous glaring contradictions and there was hardly any meeting point between them. On Article 370, which gives special powers and status to the State, the BJP is very vocal on scrapping it, while the People’s Democratic Party is for retaining it; on Uniform Civil Code, the former is emphatic about its introduction and implementation while the latter opposes it tooth and nail; on relationship with Pakistan, BJP eloquently promotes a ‘muscular’ action plan while PDP is all for dialogue and discussion; on Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the saffron party sticks to its strictest implementation to contain cross border terrorism, while PDP is for its phased withdrawal. Thus, there were no common grounds between the two on matters vital to the State, yet the two came together to share the spoils of power.
The PDP was out of power for almost a decade. Its alliance with a party diametrically opposite to its views showed its vulnerability and a threat to its very existence without being in power for long. It suited BJP also as it had never come to power in the State, and its status as a ruling party there helped it to brag about its pan-India presence. It added to the number of State governments BJP was in power. The arrangement helped not the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but the two parties to shore up their image.
The alliance government did much harm to the State. Terrorist activities increased by leaps and bounds. Cross-border terrorism was at its peak. There were more civilian casualties during this period than in any previous years. On internal issues like handling stone-throwers there was no meeting ground between the two ruling partners. Even in a barbaric incident like the gang-rape and murder of the minor girl in Kathua, BJP leaders were opposed to taking stern action against the accused as they apparently belonged to the majority community, and the victim a Muslim. Thus, the ruling partners could not see eye to eye even on law and order issues, thereby making a mockery of the rule of law.
The only solution to the Kashmir imbroglio lies with the people there. Therefore, reaching out to the people, in whatever way, would be the best path to solve the decades-old problem. Handling of the issue should move beyond political compass if the stakeholders are genuinely interested in pulling the State out of its present chaotic state.(Published on 25th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 26)